Selling my stock in beliefs

I find there is great wisdom in this teaching - speak as though you are correct, but listen as though you are wrong.  Too bad few people are really any good at it.

There was a time in my life where I really cared about beliefs.  I mean to the point where I would argue until I was blue in the face and even go around looking for arguments to get into over beliefs.

After about 10 years of defending my positions and arguing, I am coming more and more to the position that beliefs, while important, are not as important as I once thought.

Beliefs seem to be intertwined with our emotions.  I believe some things to be true and it is very difficult for me to be "proven" otherwise.  When someone starts attacking what I believe in, I feel an instant combination of emotion and fear brought together by a sense that I have to "prove" myself.  I have to prove, say the existence of a consciousness outside the individual human being (God), to someone who does not.  If I am unable to do so or unable to convince the other person, then I feel like an idiot or a failure.  Which allows me resort to outshout or demonize or patronize the other person who believes something else.  It is all very ugly and it always ends up with me feeling more entrenched with my own views than more open to the reality that I may be incorrect.

There are studies that even argue that when we are misinformed about something and then faced with facts, we rarely change our minds.

I would argue that we are unwilling to modify our beliefs about facts because beliefs are tied to emotions and emotions are unable to understand logical arguments.  Try talking logic to a child who is throwing a fit, it will not work.  Ever.
Just because you believe you are tolerant does not
mean you value it.  Values shape behavior.

Same for adults.

This is why I am placing less emphasis on what you believe and more emphasis on values which are revealed in lifestyle choices.  We can believe things without actually acting on them.  For instance, I can believe that the earth revolves around the moon and not have to change a single thing about how I live my life.  However I cannot hide my values for very long at all.  (see cartoon to the right)

I value my wife and son, so I am with them as much as I can be.  I value the my job so I show up for work.  I value living more simply so I do not eat much meat and have simple furnishings in my home.  My values shape my behavior, my beliefs give me something to argue about.

Frankly I do not really care much about what others believe about who is going to heaven or who is going to hell or even if there is a heaven or a hell.  Those are beliefs in my book.  I am not going to loose a relationship over different beliefs.  Each time Jesus attempted to sway the beliefs of the disciples, they never got it.  So Jesus stopped trying to sway beliefs and attempted to sway values.

This is, in part, what I believe the Christian message has to offer the world.  Not a systematic set of beliefs which we can debate back and forth.  No, the message of Jesus offers us a set of values, in which we die to our own values and take on the values of Christ.


Contrary to many of my fellow Christians, these are not beliefs.  These are values.  We do not believe in service, we do service.  We do not believe in self sacrifice, we live it.  We do not believe love, we show it. If we just believe in the concepts of forgiveness and grace but never share them, then we are just clashing cymbals making a lot of noise.

Who cares if you do not believe Jesus was God?

Do you value what this Jesus values?

If so, then regard less of what you might believe, you are a follower of The Way.